Officials behind the anti-gay marriage
Summer of Marriage Tour 2010 booted a videographer documenting their
Annapolis, Maryland rally on Wednesday.
Jethro Rothe-Kushel was threatened with
arrest for filming the public rally taking place at the State House
Square, a memorial dedicated to the 200th anniversary of
Maryland's highest court that features a statue of Thurgood Marshall
standing under the words “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Rothe-Kushel is trailing the tour for
gay rights groups Courage
Campaign Equality and Freedom
to Marry as it docks in 23 eastern cities.
The bus tour is sponsored by the
National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the group behind measures
in Maine and California that have repealed gay marriage at the ballot
box, and is expected to end with a Washington D.C. rally on August
Its first stop at the Statehouse in
Augusta, Maine was met with a counter demonstration that featured
Maine Governor John Baldacci, who signed a gay marriage law approved
by lawmakers last year. The law was repealed months later in a
referendum supported by NOM.
Maine's next governor will either be
strongly in favor of gay marriage or strongly against it. Democrat
Libby Mitchell has pledged to sign a gay marriage bill, while her
Republican opponent, Paul LePage, says he “supports traditional
marriage” on his campaign website. A July 14 Rasmussen poll found
LePage ahead of his opponent with an 8 point lead.
During a weekend stop in Providence,
Rhode Island, gay marriage supporters outnumbered opponents at a
Statehouse lawn rally. Gay activists chanted, “Get your hate out
of our state,” as they attempted to shout down NOM's speakers.
NOM President Brian Brown said the
activists “simply went crazy.”
“I've never seen anything like it,”
he wrote on the group's blog. “The hatred was palpable. It was an
embarrassment to their cause – I only hope the word gets out, so
people can see how nuts they were.”
Lawmakers in Rhode Island have debated
a gay marriage bill for 13 years in row.
A large road block to marriage equality
in the state has been Republican Governor Don Carcieri, who, along
with his wife Sue, is a member of the local chapter of NOM.
Leading candidates for governor –
former U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee and State Treasurer Frank Caprio –
have pledged their support for a gay marriage bill.
The bus pushed on to Trenton, New
Jersey, where counter demonstrators kept their distance, opting to
rally inside the Statehouse as NOM set up camp outside.
“Outside is a message of hate and
prejudice,” Steve Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, the
state's largest gay rights advocate, told a crowd of supporters.
In New Jersey, the issue of gay
marriage is headed back to court after a drive to legalize the
institution fizzled in the state Senate last year. A trio of
back-to-back wins for gay marriage opponents – repeal of Maine's
gay marriage law by voters, the New York Senate's rejection of a
similar measure and the New Jersey election of Governor Chris
Christie, an opponent of gay marriage – persuaded on-the-fence
lawmakers to vote against the bill, despite strong support on the
issue from the public.
The loss prompted gay marriage
activists to return to the state Supreme Court that struck down the
state's ban on gay marriage and paved the way for civil unions.
At the NOM rally, about 80 people
listened as NOM President Brian Brown attempted to flip the script on
gay marriage supporters, saying that his group's civil rights were
“What if Martin Luther King Jr. would
have listened to those who tried to silence and tell him that his
faith has no place in the public square – that he should be
silent?” Brown said. “You are a part of a new civil rights group
– a civil rights group dedicated to protecting the most fundamental
and basic institution known to mankind: marriage.”
Bishop John M. Smith of the Catholic
Diocese of Trenton held a similar sentiment: “Standing for the
truth of marriage does not deny the rights or equal dignity of human
persons; rather it stands for the rights of husbands and wives.”
Maryland is one of two states – the
other being New York – that recognize the out-of-state marriages of
gay and lesbian couples, who could easily marry in neighboring
Facing what looked like a poorly
attended event, Brown, who just days earlier had said he welcomed
counter-protesters at his rallies because “This is America,”
asked Maryland police to remove the videographer from filming
One count put attendance at 20 people,
not counting staff. Another issue NOM was concerned with appeared to
be the Thurgood Marshall statue just feet away from its podium.
“Next door, on the other side, now,”
a policeman is heard demanding of Rothe-Kushel on footage he posted.
“I said you have to go over there,”
he says, pointing to the other side of the street.
“Don't make me lock you up,” he
Attending the rally was D.C.'s number
one gay marriage foe Bishop Harry Jackson, whose group is pushing for
a referendum on gay marriage in the District.
Jackson, who is African-American, said:
“The major civil right, for those of us who went through the civil
rights movement, is the right to vote.”
Only one speaker, Derek McCoy of the
Association of Maryland Families, appeared to grasp the irony of
holding an anti-gay marriage rally next to a monument of Thurgood
Marshall: “We've got Thurgood Marshall here and some would say that
this is not the place to have this sort of rally.”
The bus rolls into Columbus, Ohio on